The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 31, 2013

Bat infestations an understandable fear

Removal is expensive, tricky

With Halloween’s arrival, it is important to be aware of a winged nightmare that can have a terrifying impact on your wallet: a bat infestation.

With cold winter approaching, bats are seeking warm, safe locations to hibernate. Bats will crawl and squeeze through small openings, even as small as your finger, to find ideal locations. The result can be a large number of bats following the smell of defecation or urine from earlier bats into the attic or walls of a home.

In southern Minnesota, the big brown bat and little brown bat species are the common perpetrators. Because insects spawn near lakes and river, homes in these areas are the most frequently affected.

Sean Francis, owner of the regional Fall Creeks Animals and Pest Control, said they average 50 to 100 bats per home infestation. Jordan Budenski, owner of the New Ulm-based Bud’s Nuisance Wildlife Removal, said their specialization of bat removal in the area sees an average of 40 bats per infestation. Budenski said the biggest infestation he has ever witnessed was 1,400 bats roosting in one structure.

Bat removal involves gently herding the bats outside and using strong sealant on exterior holes to prevent return visits. Budenski said his company also utilizes tubing to funnel bats from inside walls to the outdoors.

Despite scary urban myths about rabies-infected bats attacking people and getting entangled in their hair, only 1 to 3 percent of bats carry the deadly disease and bats typically flee from humans.

But the very presence of the bats can cause what some would consider as horrifying problems.

Francis and Budenski both said a major component of their work is the safe removal of guano or bat droppings, which can carry fungal spores that sicken people.

“The problem with people removing it on their own is they tend to just sweep it up and kick the fungal dust into the air. They can get sick if they breath that in,” Budenski said. “We treat the guano before vacuuming it up.”

The other problem is less dangerous but highly annoying: bat bugs. These tiny insects are harder to treat versions of bed bugs. They feed on the bats, but they can migrate to infesting human beds if they are unable to find their original hosts.

The scariest impact can be the cost: Francis said it could cost $500 to $800 to just remove a bat infestation. Budenski said fully “bat-proofing” a home can cost over $800.

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